It is not completely unfair or excessively pessimistic to look out into the future and call it bleak. It is projected that by the year 2050, to feed the growing population, the human race will have to produce more food than we have in the entirety of our history. That population will also have to compete for the precious resources of clean water and energy.
Human impacts have already been extremely detrimental to Earth’s delicate and painstakingly balanced ecosystems. It is terrifying to imagine what havoc the estimated population of 9.7 billion will wreak in the near future. Already, the effects of climate change and human encroachment have been calamitous. The rate of extinction is currently 1,000 times greater than what is natural. It is easy to look out and see the disheartening landscape of our present, and feel apathetic toward our future, but that would be the same reckless attitude that landed us in this mess. Though it is important to acknowledge the damage, it is more important to see what can be done to change it. What is being done in your community to help shift the world’s future to one of hope?
Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) is one such beacon of proactive innovation. The Trades and Advanced Technology Center (TATC) at SFCC has received high praise for its groundbreaking curriculum. The TATC houses important programs in algae cultivation, aquaponics/hydroponics, biofuels, solar energy and water treatment, to name a few. The instructors and staff work hard to create a real-world environment for students to learn and master these technologies with a hands-on approach. In the Alternative Fuels program, students have access to the state-of-the-art Biofuels Center of Excellence Lab, where they can grow algae or create biodiesel, ethanol, biogas and syngas to create clean energy.
The Greenhouse Management Program houses aquaponic and hydroponic systems, which allows students to learn how to operate, manage and develop skills with industry-provided equipment. Just this year the college built a 12,000-square-foot greenhouse where students can learn controlled environment agriculture powered by renewable energy systems. Like the Greenhouse Program, which demonstrates how to produce sustainable and abundant food, the curriculum at the TATC trains students in technologies that are becoming ever more essential in today’s world.
The TATC has brought international attention to northern New Mexico and has proved to be a front-runner, competing with heavyweight universities across the nation with its sustainability curriculum. This program has attracted delegations from South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. It recently won the prestigious 2017 American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Solution Generation’s Climate Leadership Award. SFCC is working to foster economic growth and diversity, creating specialized jobs and training for New Mexicans in “green” technologies. Toward this goal, SFCC’s Innovation Center combines academic research, facilities management and collaboration with the private sector to develop advanced technologies and empower local entrepreneurs. The center aims to create high-paying, technology-based jobs for the region’s high school and college graduates by training a workforce to meet industry needs. The center has collaborated with enterprises that have been spawned by the TATC such as NTxBIO, Algae Industry Magazine, Apogee Spirulina, New Solutions Energy, New Mexico Film Resources and the newly launched Fab Lab Santa Fe.
SFCC’s vision of nurturing resilient communities by training a generation that can rise to the critical challenges both local and global communities are facing is powerful. Having been a student at the TATC, in the Biofuels and Greenhouse Management programs, I have experienced SFCC’s model of teaching sustainability. As a result, I have gained critical skills and an understanding of what is required to generate hope and change. ′
Adreanna Jasso is a senior in The Masters Program, a dual-credit high school program housed at SFCC. She plans to attend the University of Denver in the 2018-2019 school year to study Environmental Science.